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Tiffin to see four council candidates on ballot

TIFFIN– Four candidates have filed to run for two Tiffin City Council seats in this Johnson County community, and voters will pick among them Tuesday, Nov. 8. The Tiffin Fire Station is the polling place and will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Mark A. Petersen will defend his seat while Michael C. Ryan, Jim Schmidt and Peggy Knowling Upton are also seeking positions. The council positions are four-year terms. Voters will only be able to select two candidates.
The Leader presented all four candidates with the opportunity to submit 300 words introducing themselves, their backgrounds, why they are running for council and what their priorities would be if elected.
Following are the candidates’ responses as received. (Only candidate Ryan responded to a request for a photograph).

Mark Peterson
I have lived in the community of Tiffin for the last 14 years. I am married to Kris Petersen and have four children. I am running for my third term as a City Council member. I have also sat on the Planning & Zoning commission, one year prior to being elected for council. I have also served on Johnson County Emergency Management Committee. I recently retired, with 24 years of service, from UPS. 
The current mayor and current council has worked very hard to establish the city of Tiffin’s “Tiffin Fest” with a lot of support from our local citizens. This has gained a lot of pride for the community, so we can further continue this event. 
There have been several projects within the city of Tiffin that I have personally been involved with, also with help from the other council members:
• Railroad crossing arms on Jasper Avenue
• Flashing beacon warning lights on Highway 6
• Supporting the Ireland Avenue South extension
• Preparing to build a water tower
• Establishing more playground equipment and further development in city park.
My personal and major concern is trying to control spending within our city government, to eventually retain city administrator/manager to provide the city with the professional guidelines to appropriately run the city of Tiffin. My biggest concern is the lack of common sense in trying to move forward in the best interest for the taxpayer of Tiffin. We need to make sure that TIF funds and our investments are appropriately certified. We need to make sure that we stay involved with the Planning & Zoning commission in the council to make sure we are all on the same page. 
Another concern is our progress for the voluntary annexation into the city of Tiffin. 

Michael Ryan
I am a lifelong Iowan and have lived in Tiffin since 1985.  My wife, Audrey, is a Tiffin native and, in fact, we live on property once owned by her grandmother. I have worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City since 1984 as a Radiologic Technologist specializing in Imaging Informatics.  My wife and I are active members of Grace United Methodist Church in Tiffin.  Our three adult children all graduated from Clear Creek Amana High School. I am an amateur musician and have long enjoyed playing guitar and performing in church and other venues.  Audrey and I very much enjoy our grandchildren.
I served on the Tiffin City Council for a single term having garnered 29 votes back in 1997.  During that term, Tiffin added several subdivisions and acquired the ground east of town that is now our City Park.  It was during this term that the decision was made and some property acquired for the Ireland Avenue extension which we now see coming to fruition.  I was also a volunteer fireman for seven years here in Tiffin back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
I am running for city council because I feel it is important to serve in some capacity in the community where one lives. I feel I have a calm demeanor and sound judgment and can be a positive influence on our city council.  I have no particular agenda or any specific reason for running other than to do my best to serve my friends and neighbors.

Jim Schmidt
Council candidate Jim Schmidt did not respond to emails and phone messages left by the Leader last week. In a phone conversation on Monday, Oct. 24, Schmidt declined any comment other than to say he was not ready to reveal his position on city issues at the time.

Ever since I decided to run for Tiffin City Council a number of people have jokingly asked me, “Are you sure you know what you’re getting into?” The answer is like deciding to start a family. As hard as you think it is going to be, you end up wishing it were that easy. Tiffin faces many important issues and I want to work with other council members to navigate these challenges.
My qualifications will be an asset in that effort. I grew up on a farm between Tiffin and Oxford, I graduated from Clear Creek and my children, Mollie and Michael, attend CCA Middle School. I earned a BA in Communications Studies from the University of Iowa and I have post-graduate paralegal training. I worked as an office manager for an engineer for three years and I am familiar with civil and structural project activities. I have 18 years of experience as a litigation paralegal which gives me insight into legal processes and issues that affect the City.
I have already been working to be a part of shaping growth and change in Tiffin. Over the past six years I have attended the majority of the council meetings so I am familiar with the process, projects and decisions that current council members face. I have spoken on issues at public hearings. I was appointed to the Board of Adjustments and, more recently, the Planning & Zoning Commission. I have been a member of the TiffinFest Committee for three years. I have also undertaken individual activities to assist residents who were affected by the Ireland Avenue Project. The logical progression is to represent Tiffin residents as a council member.
I am particularly interested in protecting Tiffin’s interests as we compete against other communities for limited federal, state and local resources. A key project would be to promote a better relationship between Tiffin and the CCA school district. I want to work with business interests for planned, well thought out development. Finally, I want to promote additional citizen involvement in making Tiffin an even more attractive family-oriented place to live work and play. The first step is to get everyone out to vote for the candidates they support on November 8th.